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Opportunity to Soar

Amelia Earhart Winner Founded Human Options to Provide Refuge From Domestic Violence

May 27, 1997|KATHRYN BOLD

The event: Eighth Annual Amelia Earhart Award Luncheon honoring Vivian Clecak, executive director of Human Options, a

center for abused women and children.

High flier: Named in honor of the first woman to pilot a plane across the Atlantic, the Amelia Earhart Award salutes an individual who has likewise broken barriers and enhanced opportunities for women.

Clecak founded Human Options with three other women in 1978 to provide a refuge for victims of domestic violence. More than 600 guests saluted Clecak, including her fiance, John Pricz, and her daughters, Aimee and Lisa. "I feel very tall," joked the diminutive Clecak. "I never imagined myself as the winner of the Amelia Earhart Award."

Not for women only: The luncheon was staged Thursday at the Hyatt Regency Irvine by the UCI Extension Women's Opportunities Center (WOC), which provides career assistance to men and women throughout Orange County.

Since 1970, the center in Irvine has provided career and resume counseling, job listings, career development workshops and personal support groups. No one is turned away if unable to pay workshop fees or the annual $60 membership dues.

Of the 3,400 WOC members, about 20% are men. "We've helped more than 2,000 people a year with their career, education and personal goals," said Linda White-Peters, event co-chair and past WOC director.

A place of refuge: Human Options has grown from a grass-roots program that began out of a church basement to a center that provides not only shelter to victims of domestic violence but also vocational training, support groups and transitional housing. "The true Amelia Earharts, the true risk-takers, are the abused women who take flight" from an abusive situation, Clecak said.

Quote: "The link between Human Options and the Women's Opportunities Center is a natural one," said Chuck Haggerty, chairman, president and CEO of Western Digital Corp., who presented the award to Clecak. "Caring [and] support are keys to moving women ahead in their lives."

Faces: Gordon Martin, luncheon co-chair; Melba Slavin, WOC director, and her husband, Roy; Julie Hill; Jo Caines; Beth Burns; Harriett M. Wieder; Judy Rosener; Leslie Ethridge; Jeanne Golding; UCI Chancellor Laurel L. Wilkening; Donna Shannon; Judie Argyros; June Wankier; Tom and Elizabeth Tierney; Judy Sweeney; Naresh Chadha; Mary Moore Young; Mary Lucas; Elaine Hart; Slane Holland; and Muriel Shishkoff.

Bottom line: The $75-per-person luncheon was expected to net $100,000 for the WOC. Proceeds will be used for course offerings and counseling services and to provide scholarships.

What's ahead: The Women's Opportunities Center will offer a "Resume Workshop: Create a Winning Resume," June 3 and 10. For information on other courses, call (714) 824-7128.

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